Fire from the hearth: Which type of fire pit is right for your hardscape?

Main Image

The cooler nights, the changing leaves, the crackling of a fire… the wonderful sights and sounds of the Fall season are back in full swing. Sitting together “out back”, faces lit only by the warm glow of a fire and enjoying each other’s company is the cozy scene we all love. One fire pit can warm up a whole crowd in your outdoor space (but it’s nice to wrap up cozy blankets as well!). Wood burning smells wafting through the air are a comforting reminder of all the fun the fall has in store for us.

Fire pits come in all shapes and sizes, both portable and built-in, but the fuel they burn can vary. Wood fire pits are probably the most common, but natural gas and propane are also available. A newcomer in the fire pit game is ethanol, a “bio-fuel” that produces carbon dioxide and water as it burns. Ethanol isn’t well known yet but it may become more popular as technology advances.

Wood as fuel for has its downsides. Firewood must stay dry and it can tend to be smoky when burned. The ashes and embers need to be managed, too. Some townships have banned wood fire pits because of various issues, like smoke as a nuisance to neighbors. Gas-burning pits are becoming more popular in Hardscape design as homeowners look for alternatives to wood fire pits.

Gas fire pits have a more modern feel than the traditional camping-in-your-backyard wood fire pits. Gas fires burn cleanly, produce plenty of heat and beautiful flames with none of the hassle. If your home uses natural gas, a line can be run from the house to the outdoor fire pit. That eliminates the need to gather and store wood.

  

Like a moveable wood fire pit, a tanked fuel like propane can be portable. Many people are familiar with tanked propane for use in grilling. A tanked option is good for established spaces like finished patios or backyards (remember - never run any type of fire pit on a deck or too close to the home). Portable propane fire pits can be lightweight and great for use in other settings like tailgating or real (i.e., not in your backyard) camping.

A new design can incorporate a permanent structure. A natural gas fire pit can be designed as a central feature in your Hardscape. A natural gas grill can be a complementary permanent addition in another area of the Hardscape, but these types of grills can also be portable. Many “dual fuel” grills (natural gas or propane) are available and come with wheels for easier transport.

Whether your hearth is fueled by wood or gas, it’s the time spent with friends that counts. So grab your hot chocolate, wool blankets and fire up the fire pit this weekend and enjoy the season.